President Obama, the Democrats, and plenty of Republicans in Congress, would like it if you’d spend the next few weeks talking about gun control. That’s because when you are, you’re not talking about the country’s financial situation.
And, as the graph included here, taken from OMB budget data, illustrates, the situation is dire. Spending keeps going up. Revenues, however, are not. And, since we’re borrowing the difference, President Obama has what Politico is calling a debt problem: “The staggering national debt — up about 60% from the $10 trillion Obama inherited when he took office in January 2009 — is the single biggest blemish on Obama’s record, even if the rapid descent into red began under President George W. Bush. Obama has long emphasized Bush’s role in digging the immense hole. But he owns it now.”
Well, things did start to go south under Bush. But look at that graph more closely. In 2003, when we invaded Iraq (one of those “two wars on the credit card” that Obama likes to blame for the debt), and when we passed the Bush tax cuts (the other thing Obama likes to blame for the debt) revenue actually started to climb. The revenue and spending lines start to converge, and, as they head up to 2006 it actually looks as if the two might cross, with revenue outpacing spending.
Even the New York Times noticed, spotting unexpected increases in revenue in 2005, and in 2006 noting that a “surprising” increase in tax revenues was closing the budget gap. The heady possibility of surpluses was in the air. But — look at the graph again — everything changes in 2007.